Welcome to 2020, all! Hope you celebrated the start of this new decade with friends and loved ones.
I don’t have a ton of new things to report, and I think sometimes the phrase ‘no news is good news’ definitely applies. However, I am aware things can change drastically at a moment’s notice (and notice is if you’re lucky). Consider that my personal disclaimer so that the Universe doesn’t think I’m getting too comfortable.
A new year is the perfect time to start fresh. If you had this past year to do differently, what would you change? How would you turn your losses into wins and your failures to successes? What about the last decade? I think about that a lot holistically. I approach life and my own happiness with a lot of gratitude for the things I already have; I often look around and marvel at the things I have/have accomplished, compared to where I was 10 years ago. I have said before and will say it again, my failures have made my successes possible.
Since it’s a new year and decade, what better time than now to take a quick look back at what the past 10 years looked like for me (my own version of the 10 year challenge of 2009 to 2019)?
FYI, this list starts out heavy. What happened then is not relevant now, but important to list because it was very relevant back then. Every day felt like an ongoing struggle when I really didn’t know how I was going to overcome all those challenges. I was in a deep depression and didn’t know how to crawl out of the hole I was in. It really illustrates why I’m so grateful now, and I promise it gets lighter as it goes on 🙂
- I was separated, then divorced in May / December 2009, when I was 28. Even though I should have seen it coming (and asked for it myself), I was still blindsided and pretty numb for 6 months.
- The same day my ex moved out, he moved in with his (obviously not) new girlfriend and her kids and brought my then 2 1/2 year old son into the mess, while I felt powerless to shield him. I felt powerless in general, and more so once this all happened. As I had supported him through his addiction and laundry list of issues, I expected some loyalty. Shrugs.
- Also that same day, he left in our only car against my wishes (the other got repossessed because he refused to work and I couldn’t support all 3 of us alone); he got pulled over and they impounded the car because he didn’t have any documentation on him. Because it was in my name, it was my responsibility (he didn’t try to help), and I had to pay the $400 something fee to get it out, which I of course didn’t have. Upon doing so, I tried to insure the car under my own name only, and was basically uninsurable due to his driving record (and they didn’t believe he didn’t live with me anymore). My angel of a sister had to put the car in her name so I could even drive my own car.
- Everything was in my name, including all the bills he had racked up that I had no idea about. In case I need to say it, I was completely broke. Anything that happened, I did not have money for. I had tried to keep up for years, even working a second job at one point, but he just spent money with no regard for us and would refuse to get a job. Creditors called day and night, and even called relatives. I eventually filed bankruptcy with the help of my father. My father (and mother) helped me a lot in the years following. I would have never recovered otherwise.
- Even though he technically left me, he harassed me and kept tabs on me, and in the beginning it was worse if he thought I was hanging out with other men (I wasn’t, not that that matters). He would then play games about dropping off my son, etc. He didn’t want to get back together – I guess he just wanted to make my life even harder. He would start fights with me and tell me I was crazy and a bad person/mother – he called me every name in the book, and told me that his new gf was much better. Though our coparenting relationship had periods of peace, he often would return to this behavior once he got in another relationship. As recently as a year ago, I had to go to court because he was still having an imaginary power struggle with himself and playing games when it was time to meet me to pick up his son. He has repeatedly said that I think I’m better than him, and I guess he felt the need to knock me down to size. To this day, you’d think I was the one who hurt him back then, because I often felt that is how he acted. The court backed me up and finally put an end to this nonsense (though he still doesn’t work or pay any child support), and life has been pretty amazing since then. It was never about power for me, but unfortunately I had to use it to make my own life peaceful.
- During this same time (2008-2010) I had been on unemployment after being laid off a few months earlier from my job of 5 years; it was the Great Recession. I admittedly didn’t know much about this other than my unemployment kept being extended, but I learned quickly when I tried to find a new job and was only able to land something making $22k less than I had been before. Luckily, it was 5 minutes from my home. I enrolled my son in an amazing daycare center (that I credit to this day because of how invested the teachers are in the kids) and it took most of my paycheck. I applied for help through the state, and remember receiving a letter that told me I made $700 too much a year to qualify. I wished that day that whoever sent me that letter hated their job. I was living in my grandmother’s house at this time, in her upstairs apartment. It was a small one bedroom, and I slept on the couch so that my son could have his own room. I paid her $100 per paycheck, and even that was too much for me. I budgeted to the penny for food shopping and all other bills, with nothing left over. I was struggling, though I had my family. If not for them, I will say it repeatedly, who knows where I would be.
- The best parts of all of the above? I was divorced. This has always been my silver lining. Thank God he cheated on me; he never would have left otherwise, and I was desperately unhappy but lying to myself to avoid splitting up my family. He was emotionally, verbally, and financially abusive and I cried every day. Us being apart was the best thing not only for me, but for my son. Even being unemployed was a blessing in disguise. I had loved my job and cried when I got laid off a few months earlier in 2008, but truthfully, I am not sure how I would have kept a job during all this chaos. I made nearly as much as I had made at my former job without a commute, and I was able to stay at home with my son for nearly 2 years which saved significantly on daycare costs. Even though I was still behind, I was technically ahead. After he left, I slowly became myself again. It’s the worst thing to feel like ‘you’ was lost.
- After a few issues with my car, I listened to my ex (don’t ask me why) and he ‘took care of’ selling it for me and gave me an old car he had. I wish I had a picture and a sound bite for this thing, because a more ghetto or embarrassing car can’t possibly exist. He put an exhaust on an old station wagon – you could hear it coming from 20 miles away.
- My grandmother passed in 2011, and I moved back in with my parents. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it has been one of the best and most beneficial moves for my son and I for a number of reasons.
- I got a better job in 2012, and I finally remembered what it felt like to breathe financially again.
- My dad let me buy his truck for cheap, which was in good condition and wasn’t an embarrassment.
- Once I realized I didn’t need to live at my parents anymore due to finances (maybe this was 2014 or so? and realizing it was a blessing in itself), I asked them if they wanted me to leave, and my dad said no. It made more sense to stay and save, and let us be closer, especially seeing that our daily routine would still require their help with daily pickups from school. That decision became that much more important when my dad got diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2017. Within 2 months, he was gone. This was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. The same is true for my mom, times a million, and I’m so glad my son and I live with her and keep her company. She has been and is one of the greatest blessings in my life, and I thank God for her every day. I hope 20 years from now I am lucky enough to still have my mom and still live with her. All of this made me feel that I don’t give a shit what people say about people that live with their parents. I am so lucky, and they can fuck themselves. 🙂
- I learned to stand up for myself and created boundaries.
- I stopped caring what other people think.
- I fought for – and continue to fight for – the best for my son. Some of that involved very difficult things for me, like going to court even when the experience(s) made me physically shake with anxiety.
- I made a lot of new friends, and deepened existing friendships. I am so, so lucky for the people I have that love me.
- I fell in love – twice. Though they didn’t last, each taught me valuable lessons about myself, love, life, and also boundaries. I don’t regret them – I think. lol. But, I do wish I had given myself as much love as I gave them.
- I got a brand new car and have since paid it off.
- I have switched jobs – 6 times. Each time, I have increased my salary. I worked in New York City for almost 4 years, 3 of which were for one of the biggest beauty companies in the world. I also worked in the wine industry for almost 2 years, which was a ton of fun and grew my appreciation for it, to say the least.
- I started to write and got published in some of the most well known career and business publications there are. I also successfully freelanced.
- I struggled with impostor syndrome, especially once I started doing well. Who was I to be happy and successful? Oh, and I struggled with the word success a lot. I know what it means to me now, and knowing my definition is all that matters is a success in itself.
- Everything I have accomplished I have done without a college degree. At times, I still struggle with this as it makes me feel embarrassed when I’m surrounded by colleagues with their Masters in Biomolecular Science (I don’t even know but pretty sure this is accurate), but then I remember that as worthwhile as a formal education is, it’s not the last say on intelligence or ability (that is for damn sure).
- I rebuilt my credit, and am proud to say I am a year away from the bankruptcy being off of my record, and I am consistently in good/great credit rating.
- I have accomplished all of my financial goals the past two years, and have no intention of slowing down. My only wish is I could have gotten some time back here, as time is the most precious resource and that is where the magic really happens.
- I traveled. I went to Florida, the Bahamas, Tulum, California, Texas, Toronto, and went to Europe twice (Austria, Germany, Prague, Italy, France, and Spain). I am also going again this year to celebrate my lovely niece’s 21st birthday (Amsterdam, Belgium, and Paris). And of course, don’t forget the Jersey Shore. 🙂
- I have attended so many concerts and listened to music that has filled my heart and soothed my soul, and that is no exaggeration. I don’t know where I would be without music.
- I am still learning about myself all the time – I am ever-evolving and so is life. I have learned that there is a lot to be said for moving in silence, and I am often uncomfortable with how much detail I have shared in the past, in all forums. No wonder so many people took advantage of me in the past. So, this post – that vulnerability -makes me uncomfortable. However, I think documenting my growth is important, so I’ll work through the discomfort.
This list ended up being a lot longer than I expected, but it’s so crazy how much has happened in the last ten years, and how it has altered who I am. I hope for just as much growth (but far less strife and tragedy) in the next ten.
Good luck. xo